Borgen (TV series)

Last updated

Borgen
Borgen Logo.png
Genre Political drama
Created by Adam Price
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Composer Halfdan E
Country of originDenmark
Original languageDanish
No. of series4
No. of episodes38 (list of episodes)
Production
ProducerCamilla Hammerich
Running time5559 minutes
Release
Original network
Original release26 September 2010 (2010-09-26) 
present
Christiansborg in 2004 Christiansborg 2004.jpg
Christiansborg in 2004

Borgen (Danish pronunciation:  [ˈpɒˀwn̩] ) is a Danish political drama television series. Adam Price is the co-writer and developer of the series, together with Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm. Borgen is produced by DR, the Danish public broadcaster, which previously produced The Killing . In Denmark, Borgen, lit.'The Castle', is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace where all three branches of Danish government reside: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Supreme Court, and is often used as a stand in term for the Danish Parliament (Folketinget).

Contents

The programme tells how, against all the odds, Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen)—a minor centrist politician—becomes the first female prime minister of Denmark. [1] Other main characters are Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Katrine Fønsmark, a TV1 news anchor; Pilou Asbæk as Kasper Juul, a spin doctor; Søren Malling as Torben Friis, news editor for TV1; Mikael Birkkjær as Birgitte's husband, Phillip; and Benedikte Hansen as Hanne Holm, a journalist. [2]

Four seasons, each comprising 8-10 episodes, have been made. The first season was broadcast in Denmark in the autumn of 2010, the second in the autumn of 2011, [3] and the third beginning 1 January 2013. In the UK, BBC Four started broadcasting the first season on 7 January 2012, with a repeat-showing starting on 13 June 2012. [4] The second season started on 5 January 2013, [5] with initial overnight viewing figures of over one million for the first episode. [6] The third season began on 16 November 2013, with two episodes being shown back-to-back. [7] [8] The fourth season was announced on 29 April 2020 as a partnership between Netflix and DR, and began airing on 13 February 2022. [9] The fourth season was released as a separate series titled Borgen - Riget, Magten, og Æren (known internationally as Borgen – Power & Glory ) on Netflix on 2 June 2022. [10]

The series has been broadcast in most European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, [11] Mexico, [12] South Korea, Japan, [13] Israel, India, Australia, [14] and New Zealand. [15] The first three seasons were added to Netflix globally on 1 September 2020.

Birgitte Nyborg

Adam Price, the creator of the series, has stated, "I definitely want you to believe there is a shred of idealism in Birgitte Nyborg that is real. She's also become a very professional political being, but there is definitely that idealism, and that's important." [16]

Sidse Babett Knudsen plays Nyborg. In describing her relationship with the character, she said, "They liked to see a woman feeling guilty and I didn't like that ... I think [Nyborg] should be responsible for her feelings. And when she has to make unsympathetic decisions, she should stand by them. I don't want her to feel sorry for herself or suddenly become a soppy mess in her private life, because you wouldn't believe her as a prime minister if she did that." [17]

In the first episode, Birgitte is the leader of a minority political party, the "Moderates". However, as a result of a sequence of events following a closely fought general election, she finds herself a compromise candidate for the role of prime minister and remains in this position until the end of the second series. In the first series, she is known as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen. She divorces her husband Philip Christensen after signing the papers at the end of the first episode of series two and is then known as Birgitte Nyborg. In the elapsed time between the second and third series, Nyborg loses her position and becomes a businesswoman and public speaker, returning in the third series to form a new political party, the "New Democrats". The series ends with Nyborg taking up the position of the Danish foreign minister. [18]

In the fourth season, titled Riget, Magten, og Æren (The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory), Nyborg remains as foreign minister, having to navigate the implication of oil being found in Greenland that threatens to derail her party's green agenda, spark an international crisis with the US, China, and Russia, and push the government to the brink of collapse. [19]

Cast

ActorCharacterRole
Sidse Babett Knudsen Birgitte NyborgModerate party leader and prime minister (season 1 & 2)
New Democrats party leader (season 3 & 4)
Foreign Minister (season 3 & 4)
Nyborg-Christensen family
Mikael Birkkjær Phillip ChristensenBirgitte Nyborg's husband lecturer at Copenhagen Business School
Freja RiemannLaura ChristensenBirgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's daughter
Emil Poulsen (season 1, 2 & 3)
Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen (season 4)
Magnus ChristensenBirgitte Nyborg-Christensen and Phillip Christensen's son
Birgitte Nyborg's staff
Pilou Asbæk Kasper JuulCommunications chief for Birgitte Nyborg (season 1 & 2)
Journalist (season 3)
Morten Kirkskov Niels Erik LundPrime Minister's Office permanent secretary
Iben Dorner SannePrime Minister's Office personal assistant
Hanne HedelundJyttePrime Minister's Office secretary
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard Asger Holm KirkegaardDeputy ambassador to the Arctic
Simon BennebjergOliver HjorthMinistry of Foreign Affairs personal assistant
Magnus Millang Rasmus Gren LundbækMinistry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary
Channel TV1
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen Katrine FønsmarkTV1/Ekspres journalist (season 1 & 2)
New Democrats Campaign Manager (season 3)
TV1 Head of News (season 4)
Benedikte Hansen Hanne HolmJournalist on TV1 (season 1 & 3)
Ekspres journalist (season 2)
Søren Malling Torben FriisTV1 news editor
Lisbeth WulffPia MunkTV1 editor
Thomas LevinUlrik MørchTV1 news anchor
Christian TafdrupAlexander 'Alex' HjortTV1 programme director
Anders JuulSimon BechTV1 news anchor
Özlem SaglanmakNarciza AydinTV1 news anchor
Nyborg's government
Lars Knutzon Bent SejrøFinance minister (season 1), later Birgitte's advisor (seasons 2, 3 and 4)
Dar Salim Amir DiwanGreen Party leader, Energy and Climate minister
Stine Stengade Henriette KlitgaardBusiness minister (Moderate Party)
Jens Jacob Tychsen Jacob KruseEU Minister (Moderate Party), later EU Commissioner, later Moderate Party leader
New Democrats
Kristian Halken Erik HoffmannFormer vice-chairman of the New Right party
Julie Agnete VangNete BuchFormer Moderate member of parliament
Jens Albinus Jon BerthelsenFormer Moderate member of parliament
Minister of Justice (season 4)
Laura Allen MüllerNadia BarazaniNew Democrats member of parliament
Minister of Climate and Energy (season 4)
Lars Mikkelsen Søren RavnNew Democrats economics consultant
Labour Party
Peter Mygind Michael LaugesenLabour leader Ekspres newspaper editor
Flemming SørensenBjørn MarrotForeign minister, Labour leader (replacing Laugesen)
Lars Brygmann Troels Höxenhaven Justice minister and Labour deputy leader,
later Foreign minister and Labour leader (replacing Marrot)
Bjarne Henriksen Hans Christian Thorsen Defence minister, later Foreign minister and Labour leader (replacing Höxenhaven)
Petrine AgerPernille Madsen Equality minister, later Finance minister and Labour deputy leader
Johanne Louise Schmidt Signe KraghPrime minister (season 4)
Party leaders
Søren Spanning Lars HesselboeLiberal leader Prime Minister (seasons 1 & 3)
Ole Thestrup Svend Åge SaltumFreedom leader
Marie Askehave Benedikte NedergaardFreedom deputy leader
Jannie FaurschouYvonne KjærNew Right leader
Signe Egholm OlsenAnne Sophie LindenkroneSolidarity Party leader
Members of the Danish Parliament
Fadime TuranAicha NagrawiSolidarity
Claus BueParly PetersenLabour
Mette KoldingInger HansenLiberal
Greenlandic government
Svend HardenbergHans EliassenResource minister
Nivi PedersenEmmy RasmussenPremier's office head of department
Other characters
Alastair Mackenzie Jeremy WelshBirgitte Nyborg's boyfriend (season 3)
Claus Riis ØstergaardOle DahlCommunications chief for Lars Hasselboe (season 1)
Mille Dinesen Cecilie ToftPhillip Christensen's girlfriend Paediatrician (season 2)

Political parties and media

Parliament Seats, Series 1–2
Structure
Borgen Parliament - S1-S2.svg
Political groups
Government (83)
  •   Labour (35)
  •   Moderates (31)
  •   Greens (17)

Supported by (8)

  •   Solidarity (6)
  •   Centre-left Greenland/Faroe Islands parties (2)

Opposition (88)

  •   Liberals (32)
  •   Freedom Party (29)
  •   New Right (25)
  •   Centre-Right Greenland/Faroe Islands parties (2)
Parliament Seats, Season 3 Finale
Structure
Borgen Parliament - Finale.svg
Political groups
Government (82)
  •   Liberals (46)
  •   New Right (23)
  •   New Democrats (13)

Opposition (97)

  •   Labour (42)
  •   Greens (22)
  •   Solidarity (12)
  •   Freedom Party (12)
  •   Moderates (5)
  •   Greenland/Faroe Islands parties (4)

While the political parties in the series are fictional, they may be recognisable as their real-life equivalents. [20]

The fictional broadcasters and newspapers also have their real-life equivalents: the public broadcaster TV1 is based on DR1, the tabloid newspaper Ekspres is inspired by Ekstra Bladet , and the commercial 2'eren is similar to TV 2.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 10 26 September 2010 (2010-09-26)28 November 2010 (2010-11-28)
2 10 25 September 2011 (2011-09-25)27 November 2011 (2011-11-27)
3 10 1 January 2013 (2013-01-01)10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
4 8 13 February 2022 (2022-02-13)3 April 2022 (2022-04-03)

Reception

The series has been well received by critics and audiences alike. [21] It became a hit in Denmark as well as the UK and the US (via Netflix), becoming one of several Danish series to do so in recent years. [21] Maggie Brown of The Guardian cited the strong female characters, originality and an ability to "uncannily forecast actual developments in Danish politics" as reasons for its success. [21] Jane Merrick of The Independent published a list of similarities from Series 2 to actual events in present-day UK politics following the conclusion of the series in the UK. [22]

US critics have been similarly positive, with Newsweek dubbing Borgen "the best TV show you have never seen" [23] and bestselling novelist and Entertainment Weekly columnist Stephen King put the series on the top of his top 10 list of the best TV shows of 2012. [24] The New York Times also offered praise, describing Borgen as a "bleaker, Nordic version of The West Wing " and saying it "finds a remarkable amount of drama and suspense in center-left alliances, pension plans, and televised debates." [25]

With several middle of the road 3/6 star ratings, the Danish media's reaction to the third series was noticeably less positive than for the first two series. Politiken commented that the third series "ended like a soap opera" and "never succeeded in breaking free from predictability"; [26] with Berlingske's review declaring that while the third series "tied up the loose ends in pretty bows and was, like the rest of the series, well performed, it was also insidiously dull". [27] Tabloid paper BT however claimed that the series "finished on a peak" and with this third season had "become the best Danish series in years". [28] The critique came after several months where storylines from the third series in an unprecedented manner for a Danish drama series had sparked media headlines and created hefty debates in real life Danish politics on, among other issues, prostitution and pig farming, epitomised by Danish MP Mai Henriksen from Conservative People's Party, who was widely accused by colleagues and journalists of advocating a bill of rights for prostitutes, solely because she was inspired by Borgen. [29]

For the fourth season, the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 100% based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 9.5/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Borgen returns after an extended hiatus with its emotional heft and political intelligence wholly intact, reasserting itself as the best kind of brainy escapism." [30] Metacritic gave the series a weighted average score of 87 out of 100 based on 7 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". [31]

Awards

Adam Price with the Peabody Award for Borgen at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards Adam Price at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards.jpg
Adam Price with the Peabody Award for Borgen at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards
Award ShowYearCategoryNominee(s)Result
International Emmy Award 2012 Best Performance by an Actress Sidse Babett Knudsen Nominated
Monte Carlo TV Festival 2011Outstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesSidse Babett KnudsenWon
2013Best International Drama TV SeriesBorgen IIINominated
Best European Drama TV SeriesBorgen IIIWon
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Birgitte Hjort Sørensen Nominated
British Academy Television Awards 2012International PrizeBorgenWon
2014International PrizeNominated
Prix Italia 2010Best TV Drama – Series and SerialsWon
Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels 2011Best TV Series and SerialsWon
TV Series and Serials: Best Music Halfdan E Won
Peabody Award 2013Area of ExcellenceBorgenWon [32]
Critics' Choice Awards 2023Best Foreign Language SeriesNominated [33]

Borgen won the award for Best International TV series at the 2012 British Academy Television Awards. [34] Awards for the series include the 2010 Prix Italia for best drama series, [35] a Golden Nymph to Sidse Babett Knudsen for Outstanding Actress in a drama series at the 2011 Monte-Carlo Television Festival, [36] and the Fipa Grand Prize for Best TV Series as well as for Best Original Soundtrack at the 2011 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels. [37]

Radio

DR1 produced a spinoff radio serial, Udenfor Borgen ("Outside the Castle"), to accompany the release of the television show. The main character is Hans Gammelgard (voiced by Danish actor Finn Nielsen), private secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, who faces unexpected adversity after he tries to push for a controlled approach to the cultivation of genetically modified crops by Danish farmers. [38] [39]

Beginning in December 2013, BBC Radio 4 aired an English-language translation of the Danish radio serial, entitled Borgen: Outside the Castle, starring Tim Pigott-Smith as Hans Gammelgard. [40] Reviewer Fiona Sturges of The Independent thought the radio version was "wholly pointless", and noted in particular that, unlike the television series, the radio program was "relegating its female characters to the fringes, casting them as secretaries and anxious mothers." [41] On the other hand, Gillian Reynolds of The Telegraph gave the radio show a positive review, approving its complex treatment of the intricacies of the civil service. [42] In 2015 Deutschlandfunk broadcast this radio serial with German explanations for some of the wordplays such as MOM=MON for Momentum=Monsanto. [43]

Remake

In September 2011, it was announced that NBC would produce a US remake of Borgen, with a pilot being developed by David Hudgins and Jason Katims of Friday Night Lights fame. [44] The NBC remake never materialized, but in November 2013 it was confirmed by Adam Price that HBO and BBC Worldwide were set to begin production on a U.S. remake of the series. [45]

Merchandise

DVD

The first three series have been made available in Denmark and the UK on DVD. Both are coded Region 2 format and consist of the complete episodes as screened on DR1 and BBC4.

In the US, MHz Networks released all three series and the complete series box set on DVD coded Region 1.

DVD NameEpisodes DVD release dates
Region 2 (Denmark)Region 2 (UK)Region 1 (US)
The Complete First Series103 February 20126 February 2012 [46] 12 March 2013 [47]
The Complete Second Series1030 May 20124 February 2013 [48] 25 June 2013 [49]
The Complete First and Second Series203 April 20134 February 2013 [50]
The Complete Third Series1014 November 201316 December 2013 [51] 21 January 2014 [52]
The Complete Series3016 December 2013 [53] 21 October 2014 [54]

Book

A novelisation of the first series of Borgen was released in Denmark, The Netherlands, and France on 19 February 2013. The Danish release from DR in conjunction with publisher Lindhardt & Ringhof is written by Jesper Malmose. [55] Head of DR Sales Anders Kjærsgaard Sørensen hopes to have the book available in the UK soon[ when? ].

Music

On 26 February 2013, DR Salg, the commercial distribution arm of DR, made Borgen (Original TV Series Soundtrack), nineteen tracks of Halfdan E's original compositions for the show, available for digital download on iTunes. [56] [57]

Based on the music from the show and entitled 'Borgen 2010', Halfdan E has also made a longer composition available through SoundCloud.

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